Rosepepper Cantina reviewed by CLAY
I have been to Rosepepper three times since moving to Nashville, and each time I have left impressed and full. I haven’t tried every Mexican restaurant in Nashville, but so far this is the best. It won’t blow you away with low-priced combos, but the prices aren’t too high either, and are representative of the quality. While the restaurant is often crowded, the service has always been good, and the food has come out exceptionally quickly.
I recently visited Rosepepper for a friend’s birthday and deicided it was time to write a review. Being that it was a celebration, my first decision upon being seated was which type of tequila I wanted. One of my favorite things about Rosepepper is their Tequila menu. Its like a good wine list, but organized by quality/price, and dealing with tequila instead of wine. Rosepepper has somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 Tequilas, and they are organized by stars: 1 star, 2 stars, 3 stars, and so on. Each additional star indicates a higher quality, and a price increase of $1 over the previous level- simple, easy, and informative. The tequilas are served either as a chilled shot with salt and lime (or orange) slice, or in any of Rosepepper’s margaritas. The house margaritas are delicious, served on the rocks in a pint glass, they are just the right balance of tartness, sweetness, and saltiness, and not an overdose of green food coloring. The also offer several other versions of margaritas, including a “top shelf” which includes either an extra “float” of liquor or an upgraded ingredient. On this occasion, I went for 1800 Repasado, a 2 star ($7) tequila, which the server recommended as a chilled shot with an orange slice. The tequila was delicious all by itself and the orange slice complimented it nicely.
Meanwhile, we were all enjoying the complimentary chips and salsa (Take notes, Taco Mamacita!) which comes in three varieties; verde, medium, and HOT. If you decide to give Rosepepper a try, beware that when they say something is Muy Caliente, it really is very hot (and delicious).
On my first trip to Rosepepper, I had the Carne Asada burrito which was amazingly delicious (pictured below). The steak was perfectly cooked and seasoned, and of a much higher quality than you would expect to find hiding inside a burrito. The sauce and other ingredients were flavorful and perfectly complimented the steak and veggies. This burrito is a must try if you go to Rosepepper. However, I never like to order the same thing twice until I’ve tried several, and on this occasion I ordered the Rosepepper Special Enchiladas (Muy Caliente).
As I said, when Rosepepper says “Muy Caliente”, they mean it. These enchiladas were rolled with shredded chicken in one and beef in the other and covered with a hot chile pork sauce which added additional flavor and plenty of spice. Melted cheese finished the enchiladas which were accompanied by rice and beans to cool off the chile sauce. These enchiladas were fantastic, but definitely not for the faint of heart. While there wasn’t a lot of the chile sauce, it definitely packed a punch and my forehead was sweating from the spice by the time I finished the first enchilada. Now for me, this is the sign of a good, spicy meal- if this isn’t for you, try something milder- they have plenty of options. While this dish was both delicious and spicy, it was neither as spicy as the dish I had on my second visit (the name of which I cannot remember) which had me reaching for my water glass, nor quite as delicious as the aforementioned Carne Asada Burrito. That said, I was definitely pleased with my order and I can’t wait to return to Rosepepper to try another one of their tempting entrees which run the gamut of Mexican staples and adventurous concoctions.
Rosepepper right in a neighborhood in East Nashville, but even with its large patio, reasonably sized dining room, and open bar area, it is often crowded, and the wait on Friday and Saturday nights can be upwards of 30-45 minutes. Make the wait pass quicker by edging your way to the bar for one of the great house margaritas. While Rosepepper isn’t a run of the mill Mexican dive, it also isn’t a fine dining establishment, and on this particular night they were actually having some issues with the air conditioning in our part of the dining room. This isn’t the norm, and it didn’t detract from the food- don’t let it keep you away. Give Rosepepper a try and see how it compares to your usual Mexican restaurant, I wager you won’t be disappointed.